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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 6, 2011 12:35am-1:05am PDT

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tonight on "nightline," modern love. the inside story of a marriage that's falling apart. you'll hear from the wife -- >> he did what he did to hurt me. >> and the husband, who could become the first person ever sent to prison for snooping in his spouse's e-mail. >> i didn't expect to find that. >> it's a "nightline" exclusive. plus, they're back. as the 112th congress swings into session with a new speaker, fresh blood, big promises and a few tears, we climb capitol hill to take in the view. and mega-misery. a huge lottery and two winners who just got obscenely rich.
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but beware the lesson of these past big winners. but beware the lesson of these past big winners. big money can mean big problems. captions paid for by abc, inc. good evening. i'm cynthia mcfadden. we begin tonight with modern love, and a complicated marriage that fell apart in a truly spectacular way. the story made the headlines last month because the husband, leon walker, was charged with criminal hacking for snooping in his wife's e-mail and could go to prison if convicted. but that episode turns out to be only one twist in what both sides now describe as an elaborate downward spiral. here's my co-anchor bill weir with a he said/she said for the modern age. >> reporter: like most bitter divorce cases, this is a he said/she said tale, with two versions of a crumbling
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marriage. in fact, they don't even agree on whether they were ever truly in love. >> it was okay at first, you know. you know, we had our independency. >> there was not a really good relationship there. early on, i classified it as a fraud and i pretty much -- pretty much stayed that way. >> reporter: but unlike any breakup story before, this one could end up with a man in jail and new legal boundaries on husbands, wives, and privacy. this was the first marriage for leon, the third for klara. she'd had a son with her first husband, left her second after he allegedly slapped her in a fit of jealous rage, and then she met a handsome i.t. specialist in her job with the county. klara got pregnant. and they decided to give it a go as a family. but a family, she says, with boundaries. >> it was kind of a clear line of independence and we respected each other's privacy through everything. shortly after we got married, he insisted that we have any
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conversations through e-mails. >> reporter: any conversations? >> yes, all conversations went through e-mails. >> well, she didn't like to talk, and i didn't like to confront. so, i don't know. >> reporter: e-mails provided by klara show a couple struggling to connect but filled with acid accusations. here he wrote, "i can see that you've gone through experiences that have made you what you are. you were raised in a house where one parent is from the backwoods and the other from a third world country." leon apologized for this in a later e-mail, but for klara those words marked a point of no return. >> that was it, because i couldn't see myself married to somebody who felt that way towards me, so -- and there was no way that i could look past that, that was the end. >> reporter: while technically still married, both say they were little more than roommates for months, and clara soon sought comfort with her second
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husband. this police report describes how she accused him of hitting her in front of her son, but the two remained close nevertheless. >> we're friends. we remained friends after the divorce. he maintained a close friendship with my son and, you know, we're good friends, we see each other, we have the same friends, mutual friends. >> i mean, i knew she was having a relationship. i didn't know with who at first. then i looked at the phone records and saw she was, you know, deep in a long-term communication relationship with her second husband at least. >> reporter: did you have an affair with your second husband while you were still married to leon? >> you know, the way that he portrayed it made it sound like i did this when we had a great marriage. our marriage fell apart fast. he did tell me about five months before i actually had that, you know, that encounter with my second husband that i had every right to move on. he said that in an e-mail. >> a reasonable person wouldn't assume that a woman would go back to a guy who beat her.
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i knew she was involving her son in a relationship with him, and i was very concerned that she was also doing the same thing with our daughter. >> reporter: in search of proof he says he sat down at a laptop computer in their home and began reading clara's e-mails to her best friend. how did you know her password? >> she told me her password before. her password was her son's name. she also kept a copy of her passwords in her address book that was typically left next to the computer that she used. >> that's very false. it's never happened. there was not a notebook. i don't keep passwords next to my computer as he, you know, told the media and the public. >> reporter: she denies that. she denies she ever wrote it down. >> well, she did. and she said that on the stand too in the preliminary examination. but i have her own handwriting. i have her own copies of her address book. when she saw the evidence, she agreed it was hers. >> reporter: how did he get in? >> from what i've heard he guessed at it. he guessed at my password. >> reporter: was it easy to guess? was it a child's name or something? >> you know, i had several -- i
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had about two dozen passwords that i had used during the time we were married. and honestly, i don't use that account anymore. and i couldn't even tell you which one it was that he actually used. >> reporter: however he got in, leon then printed those e-mails and sent them to clara's first husband, as a warning that she was bringing their son back into a relationship with husband number two. this touched off a custody battle over the boy and led an angry clara to go to the police. months later, the oakland county sheriff's cyber unit arrived at leon's office. >> two officers asked me to come out with them in the car. and they put me in the back seat and handcuffed me and drive off. being a person who has never had any issue with the police before, that was pretty interesting. >> reporter: and his arrest, a pretty interesting development in the age of modern love. >> memory spy. let's see you hide from me now, little man. >> reporter: because movies like
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"knocked up" are just one place to find spousal spying these days. a recent study found that around a third of men and women admit to checking their significant other's e-mail without their knowledge. and almost half of all divorce cases include online snooping. even so, leon will stand trial and face up to five years in prison under a michigan law historically used to go after computer hackers or credit card fraudsters. but oakland county prosecutor jessica cooper insists that leon walker is exactly that sort of criminal. >> he's hacking. we have an i.t. specialist who hacks. what else is he going to start hacking into? particularly when he's a government computer expert. what's the difference between hacking into the e-mail or hacking into an account or eavesdropping on a phone? that's something that you cannot do. and you can't do it between husband and wife. you can't do it between friends. and you can't do it. >> does the prosecutor have nothing else to do? you've got a prosecutor now who is either trying to make a name
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for herself, for her office, or simply trying to set a precedent that says this will not be tolerated. if we say that this activity will not be tolerated and we're going to make eavesdropping, that is, snooping in someone's e-mail who's your spouse in a shared computer in your own home a crime, well, god knows where we're going to put all the people in all the jails in america. >> you like apples, don't you? >> reporter: the walkers' divorce is now final. clara lives with her folks. and they share custody of their little girl. but this child clinging to a picture of her dad is the focus of a whole new legal battle. leon is seeking sole custody of his daughter and court-ordered counseling for his ex-wife, all while preparing for a criminal trial that begins on valentine's day. the divorce is one thing. child custody is gut-wrenching in and of itself. but the thought that you could do time, what do you make of that?
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>> there's not much in this process that makes sense. so how i -- what i make of it is that things happen. i'm just taking it a day at a time, and i'm focusing on protecting my daughter. >> reporter: if you could strip away all of the cameras, all the legal proceedings, the lawyers, and just have a conversation with leon, what do you want to say to him? what is it you hope he understands? >> well, for one, i hope that he will let go of this anger that he has towards me. and you know, we are a team, whether he likes it or not. we have a daughter that we have to raise together. and it's important for her to see us function together. and it's just -- it's very destructive, what he's doing right now. and i just hope that she will
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never learn of this, you know? we can work together. i'm willing to do it. he just really needs to let his anger go. >> reporter: but you do know that you're going to testify against him with the goal of putting him in jail perhaps. so that's a lot to ask. >> it is. but what does he expect me to do? i mean, he violated my privacy. i was violated. so what about me? >> well, yesterday a michigan state representative announced that he plans to introduce an amendment to the hacking law to make sure parents and spouses cannot be charged with a crime for reading e-mails or other electronic communications of one another. he called the prosecution of walker a waste of taxpayer money. when we come back, you're back to work for the new year, and now so are they. a new congress, with big plans, arrives on capitol hill.
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it's the biggest fresh spring class in more than 60 years. 94 new members, all but nine of them republicans. their new leader, ohio representative john boehner, took over the gavel today from outgoing speaker nancy pelosi in a ceremony marked by good will and even a little humor. with just a wee bit of politics on the side. here's jonathan karl with our report. >> reporter: for most children,
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it's the sort of event you can only read about in a school book. but for these kids, an up close and personal view of history. >> i now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of mr. -- speaker boehner. >> reporter: authoritily before noon, members of the house and their families ambled onto the house floor. on this day, few signs of the bitterness of the campaign or the deep partisan divide that's come to define washington. 94 of them, new to congress, many of them, new to politics altogether. a dentist, rancher, vet rans. for the outgoing speaker, it was a day she desperately tried to prevent from happening. for john boehner, a culmination of a lifetime's ambition. >> the people voted to end business as usual and today, we begin to carry out their instructions.
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>> reporter: ceremonies on both sides of the capitol. the vice president on hand to swear in a new crop of senators. >> please raise your right hand. >> reporter: but clearly, the man of the hour, john boehner. even democrats lined up to capture their moment with him. legendary for his visible displays of emotion, boehner shed his first tears even before he got a chance to speak. >> cantor? >> boehner. >> reporter: one by one, each member of the house votes for their new leader. all 241 republicans voting for boehner. no surprise there, but 20 democrats failed to vote for pelosi. >> schuler. >> john lewis. >> lewis of georgia. >> reporter: and unusual rebuke for a party leader, and a sign, at least, some of them are not happy that pelosi has decided to stick around after november's shellacking.
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the end result, though, never in doubt. >> therefore, the honorable john a. boehner of the state of ohio, having received the majority of the votes cast, is dually elected speaker of the house of representatives for the 112th congress. >> reporter: outgoing speaker nancy pelosi was gracious to the victors, drawing a few more tears from boehner. >> now, the house will be led by a proud son of ohio. a man of conviction, a public servant of resolve and a legislative leader of skill. he is a man of faith, faith in god, faith in our country and faith in his family. >> reporter: but even before handing over that gavel, some more fighting words from pell sewly, touting her record -- >> we have made the largest ever commitment to making college more affordable, enacted wall
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street reform with the greatest consumer protections in history and passed a strong patient's bill of rights. >> reporter: from the new speaker, a serious, even somber tone. >> we gather here today at a time of great challenges. nearly 1 in 10 of our neighbors is out of work. hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th congress. >> reporter: his overriding theme? humility. >> the american people have humbled us. they have refreshed our memories to just how temporary the privilege of serving is. they remind us that everything here is on loan from them. that includes this gavel. >> reporter: and when he offered the members a spending cut close to home -- >> and we will start by cutting congress' own budget. >> reporter: he got a standing ovation. because this, according to the new party in pow er, is the new
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washington. smaller government, less spending, and getting the deficit under control. which may be a little harder -- >> i need to borrow that back. >> reporter: than getting the kids under control. >> william, give that back to me. i'll trade you. i'll trade you. here you go. >> reporter: i'm jonathan karl for "nightline" on capitol hill. >> vice president did finally get his speech back. he's good with kids. up next, two people win big in the mega-millions lottery, but is winning the lottery all it's cracked up to be? we have the lottery, by the cracked up to be? we have the lottery, by the numbers. which powers the evo. is is android, this is something nice someone said about the evo. so is this. ♪ and this. and all this. and this is something really, really nice that someone said about the evo. well, we thought it was nice.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with cynthia mcfadden. >> well, the stakes were enormous for last night's $380 million mega-millions lottery jackpot. when the dust cleared, there was not just one big winner, but two. but if history is a guide, winning may not be such a good thing. here's jeremy hubbard with the lottery by the numbers. >> reporter: tonight's jackpot is an estimated $355 million. last night's jackpot was bigger than you can imagine. bigger than lottery officials expected. $380 million, and just two winners. and, you aren't one of them. yeah, it stinks, but you never had a prayer. your chance to win, 1 in 176 million. if that doesn't make you feel any better, we've come up with a reason to be glad you didn't hit the jackpot. or, 25 million reasons in the case of kenneth and connie parker. they won $25 million in the
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lottery. months later, their 16-year marriage disintegrated. $20 million, that's what jeffrey dampier won in the illinois lottery, only be to kidnapped and killed a few years later by his sister in law and her boyfriend. $11 million is what abraham shakespeare was left with after taxes when he won the lottery back in november 2006. not bad for a penniless day laborer. but -- >> i would like my old life back where i can walk the treatments like a normal person. >> reporter: more than three years later, the money is gone, and so is he. prosecutors say this woman befriended him, took more than $3 million of his money and then shot him dead. she has pled not guilty. the lottery curse. that inability to handle the fame and fortune thrust upon you with that big, oversized check. there's no better example than jack whitaker. in 2002, he won the largest
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individual payout in history, nearly $315 million. he was later sued, divorced, got into trouble with alcohol and his daughter and granddaughter died of what are believed to be drug overdoses. when you look at the jackpot by the numbers, the pitfalls may outnumber the perks. we all saw how unlucky hurley was on "lost." >> who has those numbers will share in the near record jackpot. >> reporter: but his misfortune didn't stop people from playing his numbers in last night's drawing, and it paid off. 150 bucks each. four of hurley's six numbers from that famous show were a match. unfortunately, hurley couldn't take that money with him to the afterlife, or whatever it is they all went at the end of "lost." and neither can you. so, instead of counting your
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winnings, maybe you should just count your blessings. think of all the problems you'd have if you did win. i'm jeremy hubbard for "nightline" in new york. >> see, don't you feel better? as for the winners themselves, the washington state lottery just announced that the family who purchased the winning mega-millions ticket last night in that state worth $190 million would appear at a press conference tomorrow afternoon. no word yet on who is holding the second winning number. that ticket was sold in idaho. when we come back, the supposed link between vaccinations and autism dispelled. but first, here's jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next. >> jimmy: tonight, simon baker, with what's coming up next. >> jimmy: tonight, simon baker, nicole "snooki" bñbñbñbñbñbñbñb!
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time now for tonight's closing argument. a decade

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